BC’s Education Department Shines

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, September 12, 2020…a great day to be a Renegade

BC Receives $1.3M to Support Teacher Preparation Pathway

Dr. Kimberly Bligh

Bakersfield College has been awarded $1.3M to support the Education Pathway for future teachers as California continues to face a rising teacher shortage. Specifically, over the next decade, it is projected that 30% of teachers in the state will retire at the same time that a rising number of children will be entering the school system. The Teacher Preparation Program will provide vital support services to 140 new eligible students every year over 5 years.

Dr. Kimberly Bligh, BC’s Title V Director and Chair of the Education Department says, “This pathway offers our community the possibility to create and further develop local teachers, giving them the opportunity to advance in their career and serve our youth. Plus, these are the individuals who understand better than anyone what it’s like to live and learn in the Central Valley.”

Learn more about Teacher Preparation Pathway at Bakersfield College.

Thank you Emma Gallegos for this story in the Bakersfield Californian.

Here’s another beautiful poem from Jack Hernandez:

                                     There is a garden
                                     where we might gather
                                     to walk and talk as one
                                     to find the innocence
                                     of peace with ourselves
                                     and others in love’s
                                     tranquility and forgiveness,
                                     a garden where
                                     all voices are heard
                                     all lives are embraced
                                     in joyful grace.

Jack emailed me this poem, saying he was inspired after reading an amazing article about the new Bakersfield College Peace Garden. Stacey Shepard‘s article appeared front page above the fold in Sunday’s Bakersfield Californian.

Stacey Shepard

I am so excited for the Peace Garden, and I love the ongoing collaboration between Bakersfield College and Dr. Naina Patel. Her guidance and commitment to peace and mindfulness have been an anchor during these turbulent times, and I am grateful that we will be able to provide a permanent place of peace and healing to our Renegade/Bakersfield Community.

It was such an honor when Dr. Naina Patel connected with me to get BC involved in community-wide celebrations, like when Arun Gandhi came to speak in Delano:

I would also like to thank Anthology Professor Krista Moreland and BCSGA Vice President Emma McNellis, who have been integral to the Bakersfield College Peace Garden project.

Outreach & Early College Gear Up to Serve High School Students this Year

The Outreach & Early College Team

The Outreach & Early College team had a virtual planning retreat this week to plan how they are going to serve 50 high school partners and over 12,500 high school students this school year. They are excited to launch a new service model where one Advisor or Counselor from the team is assigned to assist each high school site with all of their Early College and Senior Matriculation needs.

As we continue to begin the on-boarding process as early as the 9th grade, the services provided continue to be student focused and built on the foundation of quality and partnership that the team has built over the last several years.

Stay tuned for more new and exciting things coming to you from our wonderful Outreach & Early College team!

This fun photo shows the team during a virtual ice-breaker activity.
They are trying to spell “BC”, can you see it?

Distinguished Speaker Series Continues with Louie Cruz Beltran

Next week, master percussionist and singer Louie Cruz Beltran will speak to students and the community as part of the BCSGA’s Distinguished Speakers Series.

Thank you to Kris Tiner for coordinating this speaker. 

There will be two sessions on September 16, 2020 via Zoom and BCSGA Facebook.

To register and for details, see the Distinguished Speakers on the BC Website.

Virtual Seminar Series Continues

Last spring, I held a series of virtual forums and seminars to share what Bakersfield College was doing to cope and shift our work during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are continuing these sessions into the Fall 2020 semester.

We have held two seminars so far this fall, on August 22 and September 8.

On August 22, we took a look at what Fall 2020 would look like at Bakersfield College.

Executive Director of Facilities Bill Potter and Interim Health Center Director Cindy Collier shared updates:

We used our seminar block of time the following week to wrap up our Opening Day celebration, and continued with the Virtual Seminar Series on September 8.

Our September 8 presentation focused on Renegade Athletics.

Sarah Lopez, one of our Renegade Athletes on the volleyball team, spoke on the importance of unity as we move through unchartered waters:

Keep a lookout for information about upcoming seminars, and please check back on my blog as I will be sharing videos from forums you may have missed.

We will also be archiving the seminar videos on the BC COVID-19 Resources web page.

Opening Day 2020

Our traditional Opening Day celebration was shifted to a virtual format this year, and our planning team rose to the occasion and provided 5 days of high-quality productions to inform and energize our BC faculty, staff and administration.

Today, I wanted to share this video highlighting the Student Information Desk. Our student services team has gone above and beyond in adapting to our current situation and finding new ways to effectively and efficiently serve our students – from a distance.

You can see all the videos from Opening Day on the Opening Day 2020 website.

In the news: Zav Dadabhoy Appointment President of CSSO Association

Dr. Zav Dadabhoy

Bakersfield College’s Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Zav Dadabhoy has broadened the scope of his leadership by serving as president of the California Community Colleges Chief Student Services Officers (CSSO) Association. The Association focuses on student success, equity, and support for the 2.4 million students attending one of the 116 California Community Colleges.

Since June 2020 when he accepted the role, Dr. Dadabhoy began working directly with the State Chancellor’s Office to broaden services and support initiatives that ensure student success through technology, providing remote assistance to students during the COVID19 pandemic. Dr. Dadabhoy knew the importance that this played at Bakersfield College and wanted to ensure the same successful strategies are implemented statewide. 

At Bakersfield College, leadership was ahead of the curve in March when the campus was physically closed and moved to an online format even before the Governor announced the statewide stay-at-home order. BC’s commitment to academic quality and student support was undiminished in the move due to the use of innovative tools, such as the Student Information Desk (SID). Since its launch in May, the SID has assisted more than 9,000 visitors. 

KGET aired a video piece about Dr. Dadabhoys new role.

#GoodTrouble: The Legacy of John Lewis

Over the past few weeks, I have been sharing videos from BC’s #GoodTrouble production honoring the life of Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis, who passed away in July.

Today I am sharing the final videos from that project.

Julian West Closing Remarks

Jaimi Banks Sings “Lift Every Voice”

You can find all the videos from the John Lewis production on the BC website.


Today I am sharing the last of our videos from the Special Televised Commencement Tribute that aired on July 11. I am deeply grateful for all the work and creativity that went into planning a production to celebrate our amazing Class of 2020.

Rudy Salas

Closing remarks

More information, including all videos, about the special Commencement 2020 Tribute can be found on the BC website.

Spotted on Social Media

Lesley Bonds, Director of Student Success and Equity, was nominated for the Beautiful Bakersfield Awards in the “Young Professional” category!

Dean of Academic Technology Bill Moseley shared these photos of the smoke in Bakersfield this week:

Enrollment Services Director Michelle Pena shared this photo with Admissions & Records Assistant Director Jackie Lau:

The BC Nursing Instagram Page shared these pictures of nursing students practicing with IVs while also engaging in social distancing:

And speaking of nursing, the BC Career Education YouTube page shared this video highlighting Healthcare Simulation Week:


Renegade Athletics Set To Return in Spring 2021

Last week would have been the start to our 2020-21 fall athletics season. As you know by now, all fall sports have been moved to the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) contingency plan, which places all of our fall and spring sports into two separate condensed seasons within this coming 2021 spring semester. Click here to view the contingency schedule. Above is a great shot of our beloved Memorial Stadium this last year that is patiently awaiting the return of all our Renegade athletics teams to action this coming spring.

Be sure to stay connected and up-to-date with Renegade Athletics on social media:

Sonya Christian

That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

BC – two weeks into Fall 2020

Beautiful sunrise photo from the my morning walking partner in Bakersfield Northeast while I walk Bakersfield Southwest.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, September 5, 2020…a great day to be a Renegade

Early College Recruits a New Class of Cougar Renegades

The Early College team has been hard at work hosting virtual application workshops for our new and existing Cougar Renegades.

In partnership with the McFarland High School counseling team, the BC Early College staff held 13 virtual workshops for the upper classmen and 9 workshops for incoming freshman students. After these workshops, BC welcomed over 200 new Cougar Renegade students who will be on the path to complete 60 college units by the time they graduate from high school.

McFarland High School Early College staff, Jill Jimenez and BC Early College staff, Nicole Alvarez and Kelly Moa worked together to assist the McFarland incoming Freshmen students in taking the first step toward college degree completion.

Good luck to our McFarland High School class of 2024 #cougarrenegades! Early College staff will be there every step of the way to help build your success stories.

Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning Classes–Fall 2020

The Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning makes interesting and useful learning experiences available primarily to those 55 and over (although any adult is eligible) who are interested in continuing to gain knowledge throughout their lives. Offerings include both practical and fun topics such as Art: Watercolor Painting, Cooking for the Holidays, and Introduction to Wine Tasting.

This semester’s classes are being offered remotely via Zoom, so students can learn in the comfort of their own homes. Courses vary in length and price. The full list of courses and registration information is available on the Bakersfield College webpage at www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/levaninstitute.

Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up today and never stop learning!

Portraits in Their Own Words

English Professor Andrew Bond is seeking students to participate in the Portraits in Their Own Words project, which will uplift the voices of previously incarcerated BC students.

Andrew, along with professors Shawn Newsom and Kristopher Stallworth, were awarded $15,000 from California Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts to fund the project.

Here is an excerpt from my campus-wide email

The goal of this program is to engage with formerly incarcerated students at BC, working with them to create autobiographical narratives that will be paired with their portraits (created by BC student artists) in an exhibit that will have an online presence via an archive connected to the BC Social Justice Institute’s webpage. We are also working on airing recordings of the narratives on local TV for presentation to the general public (this is in lieu of public speaking events by the students that would have been held on campus and in local and out of town venues prior to COVID-19).

Measure J Construction Photos

Check out these amazing drone photos of the slab pour for our new Science and Engineering building. Thank you to Bernards and AECOM/Parsons for sharing these so we can keep everyone updated on how we are building #ABetterBC!

Opening Day 2020

Bakersfield College’s traditional opening day celebration was transformed this year. Instead of a one-day gathering in our beautiful Indoor Theatre, we had 5 days of virtual productions.

Today, I’m sharing three videos from Day 1. These videos highlight Bakersfield College’s commitment to Racial Equity – a theme highlighted throughout all 5 days of presentations.

Abel Guzman, Bryan Hirayama and Vikki Coffee spoke about the work of EODAC – Equal Opportunity & Diversity Action Committee.

Abel Guzman, Executive Director of Rural Initiatives:

Bryan Hirayama, EODAC Faculty Chair:

Vikki Coffee, EODAC Classified Chair:

New BSAD Warehouse Management Course

For the first time ever, Renegades now have the chance to learn about operations, efficiency, and distribution center leadership in the Warehouse Management (BSAD B89a) Business Administration course. BC’s Gary Blackburn shared with The Bakersfield Californian his excitement in an article published Thursday.

Check it out at: https://www.bakersfield.com/news/bc-begins-to-offer-courses-for-students-aiming-to-get-a-white-collar-warehouse-job/article_2cceb956-ed89-11ea-90cc-07eb57d663b4.html

In the News

Financial Aid on News at Sunrise

Jennifer Achan

Did you catch Financial Aid Director Jennifer Achan on 17 News at Sunrise this week?

She shared about how financial aid services have moved online, and how they are able to help students complete their FAFSA applications as deadlines approach.

You can watch her full interview on the KGET website.

For more information about Financial Aid, visit the Bakersfield College website at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/finaid.

Community Voices

Thea Tanicala, BC Chamber Singer’s President, had a piece in the Bakersfield Californian this week. She covers how they held a virtual retreat this year to adapt to the pandemic.

She also shared that there will be a virtual concert on November 6 titled “Becoming Us,” which will be a collaboration between the BC Chamber Singers and BC photography and videography students.

“Music is what drives me and it’s been the source of comfort and motivation during quarantine. Together, it has to be our mission to keep moving forward and to work as hard as we can until one day we can meet with each other and sing side by side.”

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

This summer, Bakersfield College in partnership with Danny Morrison Media created a series of productions titled #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation.

In the June 18 production, we heard from Assembly Member Rudy Salas, City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, and Dr. Brijesh Bhambi.

Rudy Salas:

Andrae Gonzales:

Dr. Brijesh Bhambi:


Here are a few more videos from the Special Televised Commencement Tribute, which aired on July 11.

Assembly Member Vince Fong offered remarks for our graduates:

And here is the final piece of reading the names of our 2020 Graduates:

You can find out more about Commencement 2020 and see all the videos at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/admissions/2020-commencement-tribute.

Spotted on Social Media

Bakersfield Foundation Executive Director Cheryl Scott with our new Bakersfield College face masks:

The BCSGA Instagram page shared this picture of one of the first editions of The Renegade Rip, published on January 8, 1923:

Kalina Hill, Program Manager, Testing and Placement Center, shared this photo from a recent Zoom training session for the BC Student Information Desk which provides virtual support to our students via zoom:

And Reference Librarian Sondra Keckley showed this mouth-watering bounty from her garden:


Five Renegades Named to the 2019 All-State Academic Team

We are proud to announce that 2019 track and field student athletes Gabriella LugoNoemi EsparzaAdolfo EscuderoJacoby Whitby and Fabian Valenzuela have been named to the 2019 Academic All-State Track and Field team by the CCCCCTCA (California Community College Cross Country & Track Coaches Association). To make the team, cross-country student athletes must complete a minimum of 24 academic units with a 3.5 GPA or higher. These student athletes have certainly taken advantage of their time as Renegades and we know they will represent BC well into the future!

That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Bakersfield College – A Peace Garden of Learning, Reflection & Renewal

Have you met Dr. Naina Patel? Well, she is a quiet force in our community promoting peace and wellbeing. I got to work alongside Naina last year as she she was coordinating the Gandhi celebrations here in Bakersfield. During these celebrations, we had the fortune of having Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi speak to the students in our Early College Program in Delano. What a treat! Check this out in my October 5, 2019 blog titled – Live simply so others can simply live https://sonyachristianblog.com/2019/10/05/live-simply-so-others-can-simply-live/

Here is a 9:31-minute video from Opening Week where we unveiled the Peace Garden project. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, then start at the 6:56 timestamp and hear the message from Dr. Naina Patel and the Gandhi committee.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, August 29, 2020…a great day to be a Renegade

Friends, let me introduce you to Abel Guzman, BC’s Exec Director of Rural Initiatives. You will see why he is a “20 under 40 to watch”.

If you want to read more check https://www.bakersfield.com/bakersfield-life/20-under-40-people-to-watch-abel-guzman/article_ca10b660-db37-11ea-85b3-2fe32045cc28.html

Community Voices

Romeo Agbalog, Trustee for the Kern Community College District, wrote a great piece in the Bakersfield Californian highlighting the work the college has done to continue providing quality education to our students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the midst of widespread unemployment and economic austerity, now has never been a better time to enroll at Bakersfield College. While most of us are sheltered in place, we can take advantage of this time to upskill or chart a new career path to compete in tomorrow’s job market, or post-COVID-19 economy, and be able to do this all from the comfort and safety of your own home.”

Slowing Down

Here is another poem from the fabulous Jack Hernandez:

He did not notice
his steps were less
quick jaunty
a past tense,
then he heard
he was slowing
down to that pace
reserved for snails
and wobbling legs.

He rejected those words
even as young walkers
passed him as though
a sign stuck in place,
“slow” is a relative
term he thought,
philosophy giving him
the nudge he needed.

Panorama Creative Music Summit Goes Virtual

Presented by the Jazz Studies and Commercial Music programs at Bakersfield College, the Panorama Creative Music Summit is an annual showcase for acclaimed musicians, local performers, and BC faculty, students, and alumni performing original music and exploring a range of styles and creative approaches across the jazz-pop continuum.

Ordinarily the summit takes over our beloved Simonsen Performing Arts Center for a weeklong series of workshops and live concerts. This year, thanks to support from the Lydia Jennings Finlinson and Burns L. Finlinson Endowment of the Bakersfield College Foundation, the music summit is transitioning to an online format that will feature weekly live sessions with guest artists.

Each artist will give a 20-30 minute solo performance followed by an artist talk and Q&A with students. These sessions will be held on Zoom and broadcast free to the public via Facebook Live on the Bakersfield College Jazz Studies page.

Check out Blue Bayou performed by Josh Ottum and Kris Tiner for Opening Week.

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

I am continuing to share videos from Bakersfield College’s #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation productions from June. Today, I am wrapping up with the videos from the June 17th program.

Daron Mackey, Educational Advisor with Outreach & School Relations:

Traco Matthews, Social Pastor and Adjunct Professor:

Please visit the Bakersfield College website to see more videos, testimonials and resources from the #LightACandle project.

BC Foundation presents online newsletter

Did you catch the premiere issue of the Bakersfield College Foundation‘s new newsletter, Panorama?

This first issue includes a welcome from the Foundation’s new executive director, Cheryl Scott. Previously Cheryl served on the foundation’s board of directors for 7 years, and was also active in the Measure J campaign.

Bakersfield College Foundation Executive Director Cheryl Scott and I

I also loved seeing the “Your BC Story” section of the Panorama newsletter. This issue featured Bob Meadows, Class of 1975. Bob wrote about his time writing for the Renegade Rip and how he met his wife Vicki at BC:

“I grew up at BC, I discovered my abilities at BC, I overcame challenged at BC, and I found love at BC. My life’s foundation was built at BC and has supported me ever since. Thank you Bakersfield College.”

“Your BC Story” will be a regular feature in the Panorama newsletter, and I am excited to hear from more of our proud alums. Those interested in sharing their stories can fill out the form on the Foundation website.

You can read the newsletter on the Bakersfield College Foundation’s website. Thank you Cheryl Scott and Heather Penella.

BC’s MESA Program in the news

Bakersfield College faculty and students recap the first week of virtual learning by Tyra Majors

#GoodTrouble: Celebrating the Life of John Lewis

This week, I am sharing two videos from Bakersfield College’s #GoodTrouble: Celebrating the Life of John Lewis production. These videos focus on Congressman Lewis’ political contributions.

R. Allen Bolar, BC Political Science Professor:

Michael Bowers, Vice President of Public Affairs & Government Relations at Centric Health California:

You can see all the videos from the #GoodTrouble production on the Bakersfield College website.

Opening Week 2020

This Thursday, we wrapped up our Opening Day celebration. This year’s celebration was virtual, and ended up spanning two weeks, with five days of productions.

I’d like to share my introductory remarks from Day 1 of the Opening Week festivities:

Commencement 2020

As you may know, this year the Bakersfield College Commencement celebration went virtual with a Special Televised Commencement Tribute broadcast on July 11, 2020 on KGET, Telemundo and steaming on Facebook.

Today, I’d like to share a few videos from that production.

There’s a Pathway for Everyone at Bakersfield College:

Health Sciences Program Spotlight:

Graduates Part 5:

Videos and photos from this year’s Commencement festivities, including the Early College celebration, can be found on the Bakersfield College website.

Spotted on Social Media

I wanted to share this heartwarming post from Jessie Ryan, executive vice president at The Campaign for College Opportunity:

Heart bursting: My daughter asked me to take her to Target tonight to use the allowance she had saved to buy some special school supplies – our first outing in weeks. Unfortunately, Target was closed due to a COVID case. Brooklyn was disappointed but as we drove home she saw an elderly homeless woman. Without thinking twice she produced her $20 bill and said, “Mother pull over and give it to her.” “Are you sure honey, that’s all your savings”. She didn’t hesitate, “Yes, she needs it more than me”

Endee Grijalva, Adult Education Program Manager for South Kern, modeled her new Bakersfield College mask (and fantastic Renegade Red hair!):

And in honor of National Dog Day this week, I’d like to share a few of the posts I caught from our Renegade family. Carlos Medina, Lesley Bonds, and Mindy Wilmot all shared pictures of their pets:


Throwing it back to the beginning of Renegade Athletics

We are just a few years short of the 100th anniversary of Renegade Athletics in the year 2022. Originally with just a football team founded in 1922, the department has grown to its current total of 20 men’s and women’s sports over the last century. In the process our Renegade athletic teams have captured a total of 184 team conference championships, 15 state championships and 10 national championships. In addition they have won countless individual conference and state championships in a variety of sports. Pictured above is the original 1922 Renegade football team (thanks to our fabulous BC Archives team). This makes our football program one of the oldest in the state! 

Jon Baker finds success as an agent

I wanted to share this article from the Bakersfield Californian about Bakersfield native Jon Baker, who is a successful sports agent. Jon was a star athlete at both Foothill High School and Bakersfield College.

Renegade football runs deep in the Baker family – Jon’s father, William Baker was hired as the team’s official doctor in 1979.

And Jon has continued to assist the BC football team. R. Todd Littlejohn, who was hired as BC head football coach in January, is represented by Jon and said that Jon’s connections have been helpful to him in his new role.

“He can point out people to me that I need to get involved with. When you’re gone and you’ve been away for so long, your pool of people might get smaller.

That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

2020 Opening Week – BC coming together

Mango is my favorite fruit. Growing up we had 5 mango trees at home. The last week in July, my daughter got me a box of ripe mangoes. They were just fabulous…. the best I have tasted after coming to the US.

I learned from her that mango farming is gaining momentum in California. Check out this article from Sunset Magazine called “Mango Madness,” about how Howard Marguleas successfully brought a thriving mango crop to California. While everyone told him he couldn’t grow mangoes in California, he refused to accept that and managed to find a variety that grew beautifully in the desert of the Coachella Valley. It was a great reminder that even when we are facing obstacles and naysayers, sometimes a little creativity, innovation, and perseverance can lead to great results. And now, my hope is that mangoes will become more of a common fruit here in sunny California.

Good morning Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, August 22, 2020…a great day to be a Renegade

Opening Day

This week we moved our traditional Opening Day celebration to a week-long, virtual format. We met on Zoom on Monday and Tuesday. Technical issues prevented us from being able to share a production on Wednesday – but the Opening Day planning team was able to quickly find a solution, and we moved to a new format on Thursday.

We will be sharing the final pieces of programming over two days this coming week, on Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00 p.m.. I’m so proud of our team for always being able to pivot and adapt to any circumstances. We truly are #RenegadeStrong and #InItTogether

We are still working on getting all of last week’s programming uploaded to the Bakersfield College website, but I wanted to share this sneak peak of Monday’s welcome from our fabulous emcees: Todd Coston, Tommy Tunson, Norma Rojas, and Manny Mourtzanos.

New Student Convocation

This week, Bakersfield College’s annual New Student Convocation moved online.

Thank you to Student Life Director Nicky Damania and everyone whose hard work helped BC continue the tradition of welcoming new students into the Renegade Family. We are BC!

If you missed Tuesday’s presentation, you can catch the entire video on the BCSGA YouTube channel:


All the videos from the special 2020 106th Commencement Televised Event can be seen at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/admissions/2020-commencement-ceremony.

State Senator Shannon Grove addressed our graduates:

Throughout the evening, the production spotlighted various programs at Bakersfield College. One of those was the Public Safety pathway:

We also shared this spotlight on the Early College program:

Speaking of Early College, I’m closing out sharing the Early College Celebration videos this week. I have saved our student speakers for last.

Logan Stout was the student speaker from Wonderful College Prep Academy:

And Nancy Gutierrez was the student speaker from Wasco High School:

You can find out more about the Early College program on the Bakersfield College website.

#GoodTrouble: Celebrating the Life of John Lewis

I am continuing to share videos from the July 29 #GoodTrouble production in partnership between Bakersfield College and Danny Morrison.

Today’s videos are a reflection of the life and legacy of Mr. Lewis.

Cindy Pollard:

Traco Matthews shared John Lewis’ speech on the 50th anniversary of the Selma March:

You can learn more about the production, and see all the videos, on the Bakersfield College website.

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

Continuing to share with you videos from Bakersfield College’s #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation series of events.

Today, I am sharing three videos from the June 17 production.

Christina Springstead, owner of Ideal Exec Business Consulting and Support Services:

Michael Bowers, Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Centric Health California:

NaTesha Johnson, President of Upside Productions:

You can find more information and an archive of all the videos on the #LightACandle web page.

Spotted on Social Media

Performing Arts Department Chair Jennifer Garrett‘s family has a new puppy, and I loved getting to see new pictures of Remi this week:

Check out this great photo of Astronomy Professor and Planetarium Director Nick Strobel‘s beautiful family:

Rural Initiatives Executive Director Abel Guzman shared this photo of his team getting ready for the new semester:


Guillory Headed to University of LA College of Divinity

Congrats to our newest Renegade to make the announcement of signing to continue their academic and athletic career to the four-year school level. This week it was Michael Guillory from Men’s Basketball. Michael is headed to University of Los Angeles College of Divinity who were national champions of the Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA) with a 30-1 record. We are excited for Michael and know he will do well at his next stop!


That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

Bakersfield College – A blessing to our community

Received this beautiful sunrise photo yesterday morning from a friend that does morning walks in the Northeast while I take Neo for morning walks in the southwest. The awakening and active sky is reflected in Mirror Pond which is located at the entrance to Hart Park. The text with the photo came with this message “Did you see this morning’s sunrise blessing?” Yes indeed… a beautiful sunrise is a blessing, and so is my friend.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, August 15, 2020, India’s Independence Day…And always a great day to be a Renegade

COVID-19 Virtual Forums

This week, I restarted my virtual seminar series on COVID-19.

On Wednesday, 197 attendees tuned in to hear from Bill Potter, Executive Director of Facilities & Planning; Cindy Collier, Interim Director – Health Center; Heather Baltis, Faculty – Agriculture; and Alisha Loken, Faculty – Nursing, as we discussed plans as Bakersfield College transitions into Fall 2020.

Please visit https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/covid19 for information about Bakersfield College’s response to COVID-19.

Corny Rodriguez

I was delighted to see this column from Jose Gaspar congratulating retiring Dean of Instruction Corny Rodriguez for his work in mentoring students, and taking a look back at his incredible career.

I am deeply grateful for the time that Corny has given to Bakersfield College, and I wish him well in his retirement.

Although, I did make note of this quote from the end of the column:

“I’m not going away. I’m still involved,” said Rodriguez.

Superstar in Bakersfield

Erin Miller

I was also pleased to see this article in the Bakersfield Californian about Eoghan Kerry, rising Centennial football star, who will be transferring to Santa Ana-Mater Dei.

Eoghan is the son of BC History Professor Erin Miller.

Erin shared her apprehension, and excitement, for her son:

“A lot of it for me as a parent is being risk averse. I wanted to get other people’s opinions because there are people in this world who take risks that they never should have taken. And it costs them dearly. And then there are people that should have taken a risk but fail to embrace the challenge. I wanted to embrace the opportunity for him instead of being my usual risk-averse self.”

I would like to extend a congratulations from the entire Renegade community to Erin & Eoghan – we can’t wait to hear what great things will come!

New Student Convocation

Every year, new students are welcomed to campus in a New Student Convocation event. This year, the event will be going virtual. I encoruage all new BC Renegades to take part in these festivities on Tuesday, August 18, at 6 pm.

The word convocation literally means a “calling together.” Beyond welcoming students to the community, students will also learn critical information about navigating college life, the importance of getting involved on campus, and strategies for being successful. Thank you Nicky Damania for making this happen every year. It is one of my favorite events.

Find out more and register at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/convocation.

Beautiful gift from the Mettlers to support Early College Eg students

This week, the Bakersfield College Foundation received a significant financial gift from the Clifford and Patricia Mettler estate to support 120 students enrolled in BC’s Agriculture Pathways Early College program.

You can read more about the donation on the Bakersfield Californian, KGET, KERO, or 23ABC websites.

Commencement & Early College Celebration

I’m continuing to share the video segments from the 106th Commencement, which aired on July 11.

History Professor Olivia Garcia spoke as recipient of the Samuel W. McCall Outstanding Faculty award:

Congressman TJ Cox shared a message for the graduates:

And Part 4 of our Graduate recognition:

All the videos from our special 2020 106th Commencement Televised Event can be seen at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/admissions/2020-commencement-ceremony.

The Bakersfield College Early College Celebration was also held virtually this year, via Zoom. Today, I am sharing two videos from Wasco High School.

Principal Kevin Tallon:

Ag Prep Coordinator David Abernathy:

Learn more about Early College at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/earlycollege.

#LightACandle: A Juneteenth Conversation

A segment of the June 17 program focused on interactions between police and the Black community. I’d like to share those videos today.

The segment began with part of the June 4 #RealTalk on Race in America with Danny Morrison, Julian West, and Reggie Bolton, as they speak about unity:

That was followed with comments from the June 10 #RealTalk on Race, which featured the Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant Police Chief Joe Mullins and Chief of Police Greg Terry shared their thoughts:

Tommy Tunson, Bakersfield College Director of Public Safety Training Programs, spoke about transformational policing:

Lyle Martin, Chief Investigator with the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, wrapped up the segment:

Learn more about Bakersfield College’s Juneteenth programming online at https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/aai/lightacandle-a-juneteenth-conversation.

#GoodTrouble: Celebrating the Life of John Lewis

I am continuing to share videos from the July 29 #GoodTrouble production in partnership between Bakersfield College and Danny Morrison.

Today I am sharing a few videos that show some biographical and historical context of John Lewis’ life. Please check for the panoramic photo of John Lewis’ congressional office (in History Professor Oliver Rosales‘ video), taken by English Professor Andrew Bond.

Oliver Rosales, BC History Professor:

Keith Wolaridge, BC Adjunct Professor & Panama Buena Vista Union School District Trustee:

Jamal Wright, BC History Professor:

You can learn more about the production, and see all the videos, on the Bakersfield College website.

Closing Week

This week, I am sharing the final set of videos from our Closing Week Celebration

During our Pre-show on Thursday, we shared a message for our students from President’s Cabinet:

Here are the introduction and conclusion videos for Thursday from Information Technology Director Todd Coston. Todd was an amazing emcee during our entire Opening Week!



Todd did a fantastic job with our Closing Week celebration. His passion and humor in all aspects of his job is part of the reason he received the final President’s Leadership Award for 2020:

And of course, we had to finish our week with a fireworks celebration:

You can view all our Closing Week 2020 videos on the Bakersfield College Closing Week 2020 website.

We are currently gearing up for our virtual Opening Week celebration, this Monday-Thursday. I will be sharing videos from this production in future blog posts.

Spotted on Social Media

BCSGA has been sharing #ThrowbackThursday photos on their Twitter and Instagram pages. This week, they shared a picture of the CSS Building lunch area in the 1950s:

Dean of Academic Technology Bill Moseley retweeted this photo of ways to connect with students during distance education:

Abel Guzman, Executive Director of Rural Initiatives, shared this shout out to his team. This week, Wasco Union High School District teachers were able to sign up for an Introduction to Online Learning Environments class.


A Heavy Week to The Heart In Athletics

This last week our Renegade family has seen four members pass on. Our thought, prayers and sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of each one of these individuals. We are grateful for the impact that each one has had, and the joy they brought others.

Keithen Estrada

Keithen Estrada had just finished a stellar two-year career as a Renegade Wrestler when we learned of his passing this last week at the young age of 21. In both 2018 and 2019 he placed 7th in the CCCAA State Finals in the 125 lb. weight class. Head Wrestling Coach Brett Clark had this to say about him – “First thing that comes to mind is his infectious smile, his great personality. He had a bright future ahead of him and we’re going to miss him.”. Co-Head Coach Marcos Austion also had this to say “Keithen was an absolute joy to be around on and off the mat. His charisma and lightheartedness was often the reason our teams gelled. He was a leader and a standout athlete. He will be missed greatly.”

The wake for Keithen will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 26th 6-8pm and the funeral will be on Thursday, Aug. 27th at 10am. Services will be held at Basham Funeral Care on 3312 Niles St. All attendees are required to wear a face mask and donations can be made to Basham Funeral Care under Keithen Estrada.

Andre Spencer

The only Renegade Men’s Basketball student athlete to go on and play in the NBA was Andre Spencer. Andre played for BC from 1982-1984 and would go on to play at Northern Arizona University before a long professional career in the CBA, Europe, Israel and the NBA. Andre was just 56 years old at the time of his passing last week. New Head of Men’s basketball operations Aaron Chavez had this to say about Andre – “Andre was someone who cared so much for the BC men’s basketball program. His accomplishments are second to none. He may arguably be the best Renegade of all-time.” After retiring officially from playing professional basketball Andre had devoted himself to coaching young talent in the southern California area and giving back to the game.

Bill ‘The Goat’ Nelson

Former BC Kinesiology professor and Golf/Basketball Coach Bill ‘The Goat’ Nelson was a well-loved figure around Renegade athletics for almost 40 years. He coached the men’s golf team from 1966-2002 and had a stint as the men’s basketball coach from 1967-1973. After retiring from the Bakersfield College ranks it wasn’t uncommon to see Coach Nelson drifting on his bass boat or handing out coaching tips on the course. Head Men’s Golf Coach Wes Coble had this to say about Bill – “His presence, humor and friendship will be missed by many. I only hope that I can fill just a small portion of the massive footprint he left on Bakersfield College Athletics and the golf community. I will miss him dearly,” 

Herb Walker

A legend in the Bakersfield Community, Herb Walker lived life to the fullest and always gave back to the community throughout his entire 87 years of life. Herb attended BC after serving in the U.S. Navy. He both swam and played football for the Renegades when the college was still located on the grounds of Bakersfield High School. His community involvement extended to active participation in the Fox Theatre Restoration, the Downtown Business Association, and the inaugural Garces Gala. Herb’s service and love for Bakersfield culminated in his being honored in 2008 as the East Side Sons of St. Patrick Leprechaun of the Year and in 2009 the National Herb Walker Day by the City of Bakersfield.

That’s all for now.
Until next time.
With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.
sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever